The Gig: Indie Week 2010 East Coast Showcase
Where: The Drake Underground, Toronto, Canada
When: 14 October 2010
In one word: Bust
I arrive at the Drake Underground for the evening of east coast music. Newfoundland’s Lazybones is on stage performing an impressive acapella number when I arrive. Already there’s a level of virtuosity in this room tonight that hasn’t been at any of the other venues I’ve been at this week.
Lazybones is the project of music journalist Matt Wells and Tim MacNeill. The band selfdescribes their sound as the place where Bob Marley and Willie Nelson meet. What they actually sound is a younger take on Blue Rodeo. The 2 frontmen play guitar, and are backed by a mandolin player and two back-up vocalists (one of whom is one of the frontmen’s dads). The band has a great quality of tone, and the band has chemistry. But something about this band is turning me off. Their particular brand of country stinks of CMT. The band starts in on a number called “Angeline” which is about a “hipster beauty queen” with a “tattoo wedding ring”, and their lust for her. That’s when I realize that what the missing is. Authenticity.
For their next song they call up Bill from The Ambiguous Case to play accordian with them- a decision that the guys came up with at 2 AM the night before while drinking. It’s supposed to be “kind of a love song”, but it seems sleazy like their last song. The last number of the night, the band does a song from an eastcoaster’s perspective about Toronto. The chorus starts off cheeky- “it’s your thighs that have Queen Street cold”, and then succumbs to the pitfalls of rhyming “it’s your lies that have Queen Street cold”, “it’s your eyes that have Queen Street cold”.
Over all, it seems that this high production value but nothing real to sing about. They seem rather sex-driven, which wouldn’t be so bad if the band wasn’t packaging themselves as a sincere indie band.
Kristina Trites joined by 3 violinists and one cellist, is the next act to play. The singer-songwriter is based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. She gives us an acoustic pop performance that seems to straddle the fine line between good and bad. On one side of the fence, its easy to see that Kristina is technically a good singer. She’s got resonance and range and a strong clear voice. But she also oversings everything, and it gives an inappropriate touch of tragedy to her songs. It makes her already cheesy lyrics about how she hates Nova Scotia in the winter sound even more, well trite. I get the impression this singer really likes the sound of her own voice, an impression which is only strengthened by the choice of using a string quartet as a backing band.
There’s one more act to go on stage tonight, which is the headlining band for this evening- PEI’s Tim Chaisson and Morning Fold. It’s pretty obvious that the crowd is here to see this act play tonight, they have a certain pantie appeal. But try as I might, I can’t get into the band’s pop-country songs for scenes from romantic comedys. To me the schtick sounds too much like John Mayer, but without any of the charm. Tim Chaisson is the group’s redeeming factor. I don’t really like his singing style or his songs, its too fluffy and new country for my taste- but it is impressive to see him handle keyboards with the same ease that he handles his guitar. And during a traditional celtic reel, he plays some impressive runs on his violin.
So despite the fact that there were some proficient players out, the night was kind of a bust. I even like east coast players and country music, but I was expecting a little more from the showcase. I wish I had arrived in time to catch Sherman Downey and The Ambiguous Case. He sounded great on MySpace, and I’d heard from word of mouth that he does a great live performance. He also was picked as the judge’s choice from that venue and went on to play in the finals at Tattoo Rock Parlour on the fest’s last evening.
© Natascha Malta, Music Vice